the inside joke

When I was a kid, I loved playing in the backyard if only to observe the animals. I remember sitting on the wooden swing my dad had built and instead of swinging, watching a rabbit chewing on something green. (It was most likely just plain old grass, but it could have been clover.) It was minding its own business and noticing that I was a good distance away, therefore would not be able to disturb it. I’d see its head pop up and down, like perpetual motion. I decided right then and there that rabbits can make anything edible look really good to eat. It’s a special talent they possess.

I started humming. It kept chewing. I was going to Suzuki Violin School at the time (who with a violin wasn’t?) and so hummed a piece I had been practicing for my next lesson with my violin teacher. I think it was “Humoresque” because I was still very young and in the beginner’s stage of learning to play my new instrument and that piece has some fast and slow parts. Yes, it was “Humoresque” and another piece called “Allegro.” That would make more sense for the fast parts. Here is where the rabbit had an interesting reaction to sound. Whenever I hummed the slow parts the way my violin teacher taught me, it would continue chewing as if nothing was wrong. Whenever I hummed the fast parts the way my violin teacher taught me, it started hopping away, scared. But as soon as I stopped humming the fast parts, it would slow down again and the whole cycle repeated when I started humming the fast parts again.

You know what, it was humorous to watch this rabbit. It was a moment in time that makes me laugh every time I think of it. It’s an inside joke between me and that rabbit. Even though that particular rabbit is long gone, now when I get to watch a rabbit eat, whether in the front yard or the back, I get to pull this gem of a memory out. Man, my violin teacher was good.





When I got back from the Dominican Republic, all I wanted to do was escape again. Overwhelmed was putting it lightly. My brain was back to reality, but reality hadn’t set in. I was spacey, tired, sad, sleepy, confused, empty, guilty, giddy, happy, and nervous all rolled into one. My head hurt a little, but my brain couldn’t comprehend that pain. It was too distracted. Everyone wanted to know what I did there, how was it?, and no, beyond the bug bites and sunburn! Beach, a couple excursions, I said to some. I left out the buffets and unlimited drinks to some others. All I wanted to do was find out how the Orchestra was doing since he went. Am I allowed to feel giddy and happy in the midst of him being gone? I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now.

There is a tribute for him in his old chair, complete with his trumpet and a picture of him smiling with his dog. It is not the same without him physically present and I want to cry when I see it, only no tears slide down. I see my stand partner tearing up and all I can do is touch her arm lightly. I should hug her, I should say something wise, but I have nothing to offer except for that light touch. I am thinking of the last words I said to him and how I’m still in shock. “Thank you” seems not enough to express my gratitude for his presence, but I’m glad I got the chance to say it. Even one last time, unknowingly.

How unfair life really is, this short living, breathing beast that we must face every single day and yet never know how much longer we have left. It didn’t happen. He’s going to be back when it’s Orchestra time, not band only. It’s just going to be band only for a while. Orchestra welcomes me back, especially the string section, but I just feel guilty I went away to the Caribbean, where the sun and personal heartbreak is eight times stronger than anywhere else, while everyone else was left here to mourn, here to pray, here to have to come up with things to say to his parents, here to visit, and here to suffer in silence together.

Tonight I want to weep in the shower, except all that comes out is an inscrutable sound, like the start of a wail that was cut short by pure grief that wanted to hide. He’s gone and I didn’t say good-bye. I prayed, but I was too cowardly to really say good-bye. I have already gone through too much and I can’t go through another one. My brain is twisted. I am happy for the progression of my personal life, even though I’m afraid to really talk about it. This feeling mixed with loss is a confusing mess of emotions, an amalgam of fears I can’t chase away no matter how hard I go to work.


…violin especially

You died today. I know nothing about you except that your mother must have accompanied you to every lesson and written down everything you were doing wrong. She smiled at your teacher and then as soon as you were alone with her at home the stern look would make an appearance and everything written down would fly off the page and onto your face, leaving you wondering why someone who doesn’t even know how to hold the bow right could believe she’s good at everything, including this. I know you must have practiced ten hours a day or maybe it was two hours every night after school and then work before joining such a prestigious orchestra. That must have been the most nerve-wracking audition of your life, but at least one where you didn’t feel like you had to tell anyone what they wanted to hear about how your audition went because it was all the truth. Your truth. And you were finally ready to tell it. That’s why LA Phil let you in. Your father must have never supported your dream which only made you practice harder, not so much to prove him wrong as so much not wanting to end up like him, skeptical of anything and anyone that didn’t have to do with his immediate family. LA Phil headlines are still here. You died, but your dream stays alive.


Trying to be all “yay!” and not sure yet if it’ll work…


I picked this up today even though it was 15 days ago. I just didn’t get a chance to until now. It was a nice surprise free gift from Ulta. I didn’t want to pass it up even though I’m not really the girly type. Who knows? I may need to use it in the future. I can see why some girls really love this stuff. The packaging of beauty products almost always looks pretty. And shiny too a lot of times. I suppose pretty and shiny appeals to most girls.

Britney Spears has become a kind of good luck charm for me. If I randomly hear her song somewhere, it usually means something good will happen to me. When I listen to her albums, I feel happy and if I feel down, her songs lift me up. It all started with her being the first artist I ever became a fan of such a long time ago. Some people have made fun of me for liking her, but I mean, if she’s got so many fans she’s super famous, there are a lot of people out there who would disagree with those people who made fun of me for liking her. That has to count for something right?

Well, the next few days, and hopefully this won’t last for more than a few days, I will be listening to Britney Spears a lot or at least wishing I could hear her song randomly somewhere.


Why You Need To See “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of”

Below is an essay I wrote meant for submission for somewhere else, but now I’m free to post here. In the spirit of the band officially forming on April 20, 1993, I meant to post closer to the anniversary of that date, but only got to it now. Enjoy.




Mary Lou Kownacki once said, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” During their In a World Like This Tour two years ago, my girlfriends and I went to one of the Backstreet Boys’ 20th anniversary concerts and it was obvious the fans in attendance had grown up listening to them. We were surrounded by girls who smoked and drank beers, holding a couple of Straw-Ber-Ritas in hand ourselves. It’s true that weddings and funerals bring people together, but so does BSB. The same girlfriends and I recently reunited to watch the band’s “Show ‘Em What You’re Made of” documentary and coincidentally, BSB just released the Deluxe Edition on We Are Colony. While watching the film, it was Mary Lou Kownacki’s quote I couldn’t stop thinking of throughout the experience.

Not everyone can relate to being in a boy band or even being a fan of a boy band, but everyone can relate to having a dream and the passion to go after it. For anyone who has something they want to accomplish, BSB is an inspiration. The documentary gives a candid look inside the lives of each BSB member, from starting out as kids dreaming of performing on stage in front of a huge crowd to becoming a popular band in Europe selling millions of records to cursing each other out through the struggles the band faces while working on a new album. Each band member started out as a boy, but there is no doubt they have all matured into Backstreet Men.

Watching this movie with my girlfriends helped us bond while laughing at the goofballs that we didn’t know the boys were, wishing we could go back in time when the boys were just starting out. Nick admitted the band began as a manufactured boy band and there were a lot of stereotypes associated with that, but like Pinocchio, they became a real band. We could see the progression from having everyone else telling them what to do and what to say to 20 years later, making their own record and thinking for themselves. We watched them call Howie “Twinkle Toes,” Brian and Nick “Frick and Frack,” and A.J. model his “Drive” jacket. They love to play basketball, especially Nick and Brian, and when their manager at the time, Lou Pearlman, first put the group together, they made $75 per week. When talking about when they first started out, A.J. said, “This makes sense. Our voices blend perfectly.”

But with every journey, there are road bumps along the way and one of BSB’s biggest challenges is getting Brian’s voice back on track. Brian has been diagnosed with vocal tension dysphonia, a condition that adds stress on his vocal cords, making it hard for him to get the same sound he used to be known for, jeopardizing his part as one of the band’s lead singers. When discussing his voice, he said, “I just want to be me,” and you can hear how frustrated he’s been, dealing with the inconsistency in the function of his voice. Meanwhile, even though Lou was like a father figure to the boys, especially for Kevin, who was able to quit his multiple jobs at Walt Disney World to do what he loves to do full-time, they find out Lou hadn’t been truthful to them and end up filing a lawsuit against him for stealing most of their earnings.

The fact that the boys can openly cry in front of each other and hug each other to show love and support whether it’s Kevin talking about his dad’s cancer or Nick talking about being bullied in school for being an odd kid shows not just how brotherly close they are, but how human they are. They may be pop stars, but first and foremost they are people with emotions and real problems: weight gain, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, depression, a “bad boy” phase, and a lawsuit just to name a few. They have said things to each other ranging from “you are dead to me” to “I know what you’ve been through.” They started out doing free shows before getting a record deal, performing at grade schools across the country, proving that they can sing a cappella “at the drop of a hat.” In a music world saturated with auto-tune, it’s comforting to know these guys can sing for real.

Yet the thing that will get to you the most is watching each BSB go back and recognizing their music and dance teachers. These teachers saw them as boys who needed an escape, as students who were learning how to dance, and as singers who had heavenly gifts to share with the world. Those teachers knew back then and looking at the Backstreet Boys now, who would deny it? To answer their own question, the Backstreet Boys are made of persistence, resilience, friendship, brotherhood, authenticity, and family. Most of all, they are overcomers, and you can’t help but like them for it.

The story opened with the boys hiking up a hill and ended with them making it to the top together, all in one piece despite doubts and challenges while climbing the rocks. It is very much a metaphor of their careers. Like ‘em or not, BSB played a huge part in forming the music of the ‘90s and it’s pretty clear they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Many groups have come and gone, but Kevin has come back for good now and over 20 years later they are still making music together, this time around with more instrumentals and writing their own songs on their own record label. The journey is by no means over and there’s still a lot of healing and baggage to deal with, but one thing’s for certain—there’s never been a better time to say Backstreet’s back, alright!


little gems

The words never come at the time you want them to. :/

The joy of Christmas didn’t hit me until yesterday morning, Christmas morning, when I put on some Christmas music and started dancing to it in my underwear. Shh! :X (*gasp* I know, you’re not supposed to know this, but I’m telling you anyway. I blame ConCru. Since meeting them and writing with them I’ve become a little more personal in my writing, although still shy about sharing my deepest, darkest secrets. I mean there’s more than one way to do this, obviously, but while taking writing classes at university I developed the belief that a really good writer is not afraid to get dirrty and show the detailed truth about living.) It occurred to me that dancing in my underwear is like dancing in a bikini. And it made me laugh like little gems of revelation usually do. And it made me look at my body in the mirror. And it made me realize that yeah, I don’t look exactly like those pictures in the magazines or a pageant contestant during the swimsuit competition, but I like what I see in the mirror. And that my lovelies, was a reason to be joyous all in itself.


Which is it?

I burned my hand this morning at work so tonight I had an emergency Eminem party. I think that’s a pretty good reward for my left hand that I had to leave out the shower like I’m the Statue of Liberty or something. Oh wait. I think she had her right hand up. Well, that’s okay because you know what I mean. There’s a red mark where the hot water burned me. Too bad there wasn’t any aloe around, but at least there was cold water I could wash it with. And that’s not all the burn left behind. Now I’m left wondering if this burn is supposed to be some sort of life metaphor related to what’s currently going on in my life. Or maybe I just need to be more careful. 😛


One Last Time


Today I watched a man on stage play his guitar for possibly the last time in his life. He’s about to get hand surgery and no one knows if he’ll still be able to play the guitar after the procedure. Then I thought about my hands. What would I do if I could never write again?

I think that man was very brave going on stage—no words, just strummed strings. It’s like that gun pointed at your head demanding a response. Will he ever play again? Then I wondered how many women his hand had played the way he played his guitar. I tried silently reprimanding my thoughts for even coming up with this idea, but they wouldn’t listen because that’s just me.

Maybe the only woman his hand ever played with was his wife.

Maybe it reminded me of Holden Caulfield (you are my best friend if you know what part of the book I’m talking about).

Afterwards, I went to feed Belly (that’s my car in case you don’t know) and gave her a quick wash with my hand. It was warm and comfortable under the sun, a nice respite from the October cold and I never appreciated a functioning hand more than this.



The year I landed in America, West Coast side, and also the title of Taylor Swift’s (as if you really needed that link, I know you know who she is) latest album. I have been playing her album on repeat since I got it, with little lapses of time in between when I didn’t play it at all. That’s right. It’s called self-controlled obsession.

I’m mesmerized by “1989” because it’s very poppy and if such a thing as music roots exists, then pop would be mine. “Wildest Dreams” is my favorite song off the album and she just dropped the music video for it. My immediate reaction: WHAT? I can’t even! :O I thought she was done releasing singles for the moment, but I am so excited she ended up releasing another one and it turned out to be my favorite “1989” one.

I love the lyrics, I love the beat, and I love the setting. She also goes with a darker hair color in this one. And even though the love storyline reminds me of a tamer version of her “Blank Space” music video, I love how she takes the literal meaning of the song and places the setting in the Sahara, where they are surrounded by wild animals. It’s like how did she know my wildest dreams are also to chill with the cast of The Lion King?! Breathtaking views, too, I mean seriously. I was reading what critics were writing about this song and somewhere it said these lyrics are the most “sexually mature” off of the album. Look at these lines:

I said “No one has to know what we do,”
His hands are in my hair, his clothes are in my room

Somehow knowing this makes me proud of her. She makes sexy look classy, not skanky and I love that about her. Don’t break the repeat button:

P.S. That yellow dress! And I love how she goes, “a-gain.” She’s also donating proceeds from the video to wild animal conservation efforts through the African Parks Foundation of America. Seriously I’m in love. ❤


revisiting the rainbow room

Korean karaoke is only fun if you go with your college buddies you are most comfortable with. Wait, let’s backtrack for a sec. In Baltimore there’s a karaoke place that my college buddies called the “rainbow room” (I’m not sure what the real name is) where we frequented and one of them told me it’s Korean karaoke style because you go to get a private room for a group of people and only sing in front of your friends. This means I’ve never done real karaoke where it’s like a bar setting I would guess and you sing in front of a room full of strangers plus the people you came with of course.

So anyway, I had the chance to do Korean karaoke again a couple months ago. Here is my lil’ ditty on this adventure, unedited, as promised:

She cut making new friends short and headed out on the road, in the direction of obligatory social time. Ironic, really, when the last time she had gone out clubbing/karaoking/frat partying ended with the end of her university studies and she didn’t think she’d be visiting this side of her personality ever again, especially not because of a work function. Desperate times called for desperate measures, but she already felt herself reverting back to her old high school mousy ways, except with the women she had come to know through lunch conversations. She was hoping she could stick to them mostly and not have to interact with the men very much.

When she finally arrived at the right room, after almost ending up at some 21-year-old birthday girl celebration room (the girls didn’t recognize her, but they didn’t look like they would have minded if she joined them) because it was too loud for enunciations, they were excited to see her and welcomed her with water and burger bites immediately. She flocked to the lunch women right away and glanced around to see if he had showed up yet. Some girl was singing along to Rihanna and Jay Z’s “Umbrella,” though she couldn’t recognize the tune until the song was nearly over.

The execs were all there and she felt a wave of nervous excitement as one ordered a Corona with lime for her and another showed her the menu, saying he didn’t know any of the songs listed. She laughed and relaxed a bit. Must have been the Corona. This wasn’t so bad. The execs were witty and fun to be around and smiled at her. It felt kind of nice being adored by older men. So much for hope. But she found she didn’t mind as much as she thought she would. Must also have been the Corona. Suddenly she could understand why some girls preferred to date men twice their age—there’s a reason why these men made it to the exec level.

But she was not interested in dating. She just wanted to make it through the night without offending anyone. Then she noticed him walking over to her side of the room, and her old college extroverted self inhabited her body. They started talking about the music, which sounded like song choices dictated by the walls covered in likenesses of Eminem, Elvis Presley, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Johnny Cash.

Taylor Swift’s “Style” came on and she was dragged away like a magnet to sing along. After that it was back to Eminem and she wondered what other secrets these people held. A few more sips of the Corona and then it was time for the ladies’ room with one of the lunch women. It wasn’t easy to find and as they walked by another rainbow room, they noticed that the difference between this one and theirs was a pole. She wondered what everyone would think of her if they knew the urge to go dancing around the pole had crossed her mind. Then she tucked the thought away inside a hatbox under her bed. The hatbox was a safer place for the thought than anywhere else in her world.

When they got back to their room, someone was doing Eminem and as she drove home that night, she found herself smiling as she said, “my name is,” over and over again until she killed the motor.